What do you do when you feel burnt out, but you’re a mom? There are no back ups, reinforcements, paid days of leave, sabbatical or any other alternative avenues for you to “take a break”. So how do you navigate burn out when you’re a mom?
Millennials overall have gotten a bad rap. Since I’m technically on the cusp of GenX and Millenials (sometimes affectionately dubbed a Xennial), I oftentimes don’t identify with the heart of millennials, and the stereotypes, of those who are still in their mid-to late twenties.
HOWEVER, culture pegs me as a Millenial Mom. And being a millennial mom is freaking hard.
I’m not sure moms of past generations HAD to invest so heavily in self-care because their kids weren’t ALWAYS up their butt (okay, mine aren’t actually up my butt either, but you get the gist). Raising kids in this generation comes with WORLDS of pressures that did not exist for moms of previous generations. It’s no longer enough to celebrate your child’s birthday, you have to have a UNICORN themed party complete with actual unicorns and princesses (one must travel to the land of Narnia to seek such unicorns), with a mobile petting zoo to boot. And while some moms may totally thrive with this type of over-the-top expectation (woo Pinterest moms!), others crumble. Aka, ME. And then have to deal with the fallout of little Johnny comparing his birthday party to Sammy’s extravagant party and the guilt cycle continues.
So what do you do when burn out is just one toddler tantrum beneath the surface? When it all just feels like too much and you can’t do this 24/7 mothering thing one more minute?
4 Strategies to Avoid Burn Out in Motherhood
- Change It Up
- Limit (or Eliminate) Social Media
- Find a Friend (or Friends)
- Focus On Someone, or Something, Else
Counteract Mom Burnout Strategy #1: Change It Up
This sounds obvious, but the easiest way to break up the everyday monotony and potential burnout is simply to change it up. Now, I whole-heartedly believe that you can find renewed purpose, joy, and excitement without having to change your circumstances, but sometimes you simply need to change it up.
Try a new morning routine to start your day with better intentionality and mindfulness. Personally, I love this app as a guided 3 minute meditation or I read this devotional most every morning. I also use this Daily Journal to start my day with gratitude and a plan of attack. Try eliminating social media from your daily routine, or adding in some regular laughter (check out my go-to Podcast list for my favorite humor podcasts – hello Dax Sheppard!).
The saying goes, if it’s broke don’t fix it. But if you’re feeling burn out coming on, or you’re already at the burn out stage, that means it’s broke and it’s time to fix it.
Counteract Mom Burnout Strategy #2: Limit (or Eliminate) Social Media
Yikes, I’m an online personality and I told you to eliminate (or at least LIMIT) your social media. Studies are showing more and more how much anxiety and depression rise with our social media intake. This is not just a problem, it’s becoming an epidemic amongst MOMS specifically! Now, I get it, we’re modern day Millenial/Xennial women and we’re almost always juggling multiple things outside of being 100% responsible for our kids 24/7; our devices are the way that we’re able to stay connected and our foot in the working world. We’re also a lot of the times lonely AF though with constant nap time schedules, sick kids forcing us out of normal life, and just overall busyness, and thus social media can feel like the ONLY connection to adults in the outside world. I get it. BUT, social media consumption without boundaries, does add to our comparison subconscious and may be contributing to our feelings of burn out and “not-good-enough-ness”.
Counteract Mom Burnout Strategy #3: Find a Friend (or Friends)
Life in the trenches of motherhood (which if you have kids of any kind, I consider that the trenches) is freaking hard. So the fact that you’re feeling burnt out is COMPLETELY normal and understandable. It was simply just never meant to be a solo journey. We need friends! We need people! We need others to jump in the trenches with us (who maybe are already down there too!) in order to lighten our load. Heck, our grandmother’s great grandmothers used to commiserate together every month when Aunt Flow would come to town (not saying the Red Tent is the right solution, I’m just saying they did EVERYDAY life TOGETHER!).
I can have two exact days of mothering all three minions, shuttling to and from activities, dealing with wiping of butts, timeouts, constant snack time, messes, etc. If I’m managing that entire schedule by myself, most likely I am a GRUMP. Or at best, not my most patient self. The kids annoy the crap out of me, every sibling squabble they have is magnified and extra annoying, and I just can’t deal. When that schedule is duplicated in the exact same environment, with literally nothing changing (same fights, same rag-tag disobedient children), but I have a friend with me – it’s like a magic potion that gives me strength and joy! All of a sudden those annoying squabbles don’t irritate me (enough to make me lose my mind) when I have a friend in there doing life with me. There is something about having another adult sharing the load with you (even just by their simple presence) that provides perspective of what the situation really is. Sure, the messes might be greater, but being able to do life with someone else (of your choosing) will for sure help lighten your load. You will also see that other people’s children are just as naughty and obnoxious as yours, maybe even more, and you might appreciate your kids just a smidge more. 😉
Mom Burnout Strategy #4: Get the Focus Off You
Now if you read that last strategy and are thinking sure, sounds great Ashley, but making friends in motherhood is a joke and next to impossible. You’re right, it’s not naturally SUPER EASY in this season of life to make new friends. But girl, you have GOT to try. There is no Amazon Prime friend button. This is something you’re actually just going to have to do yourself. Simply open your eyes, and yourself, up to the people ALREADY around you, at the places you ALREADY go, and change your posture to be one that is more welcoming. Since you’ve quit or limited social media, instead of burying your nose in your phone at the park, put it away and strike up normal conversation with another mom there.
“Hey, I like your shoes – where did you get those?”
“Your little one is super cute, how old is she?”
“So, come here often?”
Okay, maybe skip that last one. But point is, most likely she’s JUST as lonely as you! Yes, you’re going to have to put yourself out there, but the risk is worth the potential reward. You’re not necessarily looking for a best friend (although I bet that app is coming) – maybe just another mom you coordinate park time with, or gym time with, or REAL basic public type stuff. Getting to know someone else, hearing of their experiences, taking the focus off your own circumstances, helps with your perspective in your everyday mom life which ultimately helps with burn out and everyday anxiety.
We need to get the focus off of us. When you are working for, toward, or with something that is greater than yourself, you will find strength within yourself that you never knew you had. Gratitude and joy for your own circumstances and kids will grow the minute that you make yourself aware of others. The grumpiness you feel, the irritability you experience, it will start to chip away the minute you allow your worldview to grow. These are the types of things we need to be adding to our life to help reduce burn out.